The 4 Deserts Ultramarathon Series is an annual series of four 250-kilometer (155-mile) races across deserts around the globe. The races were recognized as the world's leading endurance footrace series by TIME magazine in 2009 and 2010, as the "Ultimate test of human endurance". The series was founded by American Mary K Gadams who founded RacingThePlanet in 2002.
The Gobi March, the series' inaugural race, was held in the Gobi Desert of western China in 2003. Over the following three years, an additional race was introduced in a new location each year. In 2004, the Atacama Crossing was held in the Atacama Desert of Chile. This was followed by the Sahara Race in the Sahara Desert of Egypt (Eastern Desert) in 2005. In 2006 a fourth race, called The Last Desert, took place in Antarctica and was the first year in which all 4 Deserts races were held in the same calendar year.
Competitors can enter any of the individual multiday races within the 4 Deserts Race Series, but if they wish to take part in The Last Desert (Antarctica) they must successfully finish at least two of the other races in the series.
To date, more than sixty races have been staged with more than 10,000 individuals representing 100+ countries in the races. Many participants return to compete in additional events, and there is a growing list of members in the 4 Deserts Club and 4 Deserts Grand Slam Club.
In 2013, a documentary film about 4 Deserts was released. Desert Runners, directed by Jennifer Steinman, follows four participants as they attempt to complete the series in 2010. The Desert Runners documentary received many film awards
Originally located in the Gobi Desert of China, the race now takes place in various locations around the Mongolian area of the Gobi Desert, and is usually held in late August.
The Gobi March's challenges include the changes in temperature from the hot highlands to the oppressive cold in sand dunes, the open sun, potential sandstorms and variety of terrain – soft sand-dunes, rocky tracks, steep hills, ridges and riverbeds.
A Shanghai-based competitor died of heatstroke after competing in the 2010 Gobi March.
What a great day I spent at the Great Wall of China. It was my first time in China and I had only 16h layover there but taking a tour to go to see the wall was the best idea. Everything went so smoothly from the beginning to the end.
Finished with China's largest and most well-preserved cultural heritage the Forbidden City. A must for all visitors to China. It is considered one of the world's five foremost palaces of all time and is China's most popular tourist attraction in one place
The day was just perfect!
It took almost two days of flying from
Gothenburg via Beijing to Kashgar, in the far west of China, and then a few hours by bus, to get to the starting line of the race. In between, I also spent one day in the smog and pollution of Beijing en route to Kashgar
The big day has finally arrived.
In the morning we had a detailed race and medical briefing, followed by kit and equipment checks.
My bag weighs approximately 10kg, which is not too bad. (12kg Atacama)
The race starts at 08h00 on Sunday, 10 June, and the first stage is called "Canyons and Camels". We will start at an altitude of 1787m, with many up and down hills waiting for us over the next week.
The daily race distances will be - 42.1km, 39km, 35.6km, 41.6km, 72km, 15km.
After a fairly undulating first 10-12km, the rest of the day was relatively flat, although we ran straight into a strong head wind for most of the day. It also wasn’t too hot, but the course was rocky and rough on the feet.
Everyone in my tent finished day one which is great start.
Tonight we are sleeping in a small village called Tushpushka.
Overall impressions of day – I feel my training schedule really helped. I felt strong all day and hope tomorrow will be another good day. No blisters and stiff legs, although my backpack is too heavy and I will have to reduce the weight tonight.
Tomorrow’s stage 2 will cover 39km and is called Tashpushka.
I had a great day, finishing the 39km distance.
Today’s course was called “Mars in the Gobi”. The first part was again very undulating, with more ups than down, than a fairly flat 10km over open veld to the third checkpoint, and then a big 4km climb before a steep 4km downhill, and a final flat 2km.
After a slow first few kms with stiff legs from yesterday, I started feeling stronger and stronger and passed a number of runners over the last 20km.
The course remains very rocky, and although I still don’t have any blisters, my feet are sore. However, no blisters are a big bonus and I hope this situation remains the same for the rest of the race.
After staying in the Tashpushka village last night, we are back in our tented village today in what looks like a cut-down wheat field.
We have a great tent with everyone getting along without any issues
Tomorrow’s third stage is called “Langerville” and will be 35.6km in length.
End of stage 3. The stage was called “Langerville”.
Today was a tough day at the office.
Although my position for today is disappointing, many competitors finished quite close together, so hopefully my overall position is still not too bad.
Today was just one big uphill over rocks and gravel. We crossed many canyons and river beds. We started at 1663m, checkpoint 1 was at 1793m, checkpoint 2 at 1890m, checkpoint 3 at 2100m, and the finish at 2525m – a net gain of almost 900m!
My feet are not ok.
Wet feet and sand are not a good combination.
My hard shoes and hard surface have rubbed large blisters under both feet.
Just need to clear my head for tomorrow's fourth stage of 42 km. We have been warned that it will be very tough, so after today we are not sure what to expect. Tonight it is expected to be very cold considering the height of the campsite. Hopefully I will rest well for tomorrow's challenge. Today's tough stage will undoubtedly result in a number of dropouts. It will be a struggle, but these undulating stages over very rocky terrain take no prisoners.
Camp 5 at the end of stage 4.
Another brutal day for me. No energy and just not into the race as on the first two days. Not sure if it is the altitude.
However, despite the tough course today, I still had the priviledge of seeing Shipton’s Arch / Heaven’s Gate. Amazing site and fantastic views from up there.
After that it was just one up and down hill after the other, in most cases close to scary cliffs and on loose gravel and stones.
Was interviewed by CNN
The rest of the day was just long and tiring.
Late at night I had problems with palpitations and chest pain. Competition doctors stopped me from continuing to compete. I was rushed to hospital. (
Xinjiang Kashgar First People's Hospital in Kashgar)
The trip took a few hours.
I will soon write more about the hospital stay. About how I experienced the Olympic flame, photography with the hospital management and autograph writing.
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